The Golf Life | Mr. XJanuary 12, 2016

Undercover Tour Pro: Bad advice and meddling on the range

If I don't seek your advice, then I don't want it.
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Illustration by Andrew Roberts

The other day a friend asked, "What's the worst advice you've ever received?" The question really stumped me.

Every week I get unsolicited advice out here. People I don't know have come up to me at the practice green to make a comment about my stance. I've listened to caddies for other players openly debate my alignment. On the PGA Tour, it's tough to practice on a Tuesday because everybody and his brother wants to help you.

I've won once out here. It took me years. A lot of people say they're surprised I haven't won more, but maybe they're just my friends.

It doesn't matter how many cuts in a row I've missed. If I don't seek your advice, then I don't want it. Sometimes I'll even move to the far end of the range to send the message. Not that it works. In all seriousness, I wish the tour would cut back access to the range.

To be fair, a lot of the equipment reps out here played professionally at some level, and so they're somewhat qualified to analyze a golf swing. I know they're genuinely trying to help, so when a rep flips his credential off his belly and starts pantomiming swing positions, expecting me to pay attention, I try not to be rude. I stand there for a bit.

As for teachers, I get that they're trying to find work. Most are very courteous. They won't break down your swing right then and there. They'll kiss your butt a little before giving you their phone number and saying, "Hey, I think I could really help you out."

Psychologists are the biggest joke out here. If I see a player with a psychologist, I automatically think that player is weak-minded. The shrinks are full of it, but they don't bother anyone. They let players pursue them. Any good teacher knows just as much as a psychologist. Butch Harmon tells his students they should beat the best, and they all believe it.

Physical trainers are the most aggressive, without a doubt. A few have been known to really chase players. It seems like the magic number for these guys is five. If a trainer can get work with five players, two or three will probably be in the field at any given tournament, and that's enough to justify the hotel and airfare.

All the staffers in the PGA Tour fitness trailer are certified, but now and again we'll get random muscleheads hanging around, crowing they know the secret. I had a buddy whose new trainer put him through a really strenuous workout on a Wednesday, and he was so sore the next morning he had to withdraw from the tournament. I've also seen these independent trainers hang around our fitness trailer to see how the staff is treating us, and then just copy the regimens.

Don't get me wrong—most trainers are great. My guy at home is also my nutritionist. He's encouraged me to grocery shop on the road. The meals we get each week at the clubhouse and various sponsor dinners are tasty, and it's hard turning down free and easy, but restaurant cuisine does tend to push rich and memorable. This season, I've eaten simpler, and I've definitely noticed a difference in my energy level, particularly at the end of playing several weeks in a row.

Most of my fitness routine is stretching, but I also do some weights. Got to keep up with the young bucks, or at least be long enough to contend on the shorter courses.

I think it's funny how the golfers who are injured the most are usually the young, good-looking ones. Maybe they should listen to Steve Pate, who once told me, "You can't pull fat, you can only pull muscle."

Not enough people appreciate Vijay Singh. He was the first golfer to figure out that if you were highly abrasive, you could reclaim the range as your office. Swing coaches, caddies, trainers, reps—pretty much everyone stopped approaching Vijay because they knew they were going to get told to go f--- themselves. –With Max Adler

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